Universally recognized as the First Lady of Aviation, Olive Ann Beech, Chairman Emeritus of Beech Aircraft Corporation, has the distinguished honor to be named the first Kansan inducted into the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame.
The proclamation citing Mrs. Beech was signed by Governor John Carlin during a short ceremony in the State Capitol November 5. In a letter to Mrs. Beech announcing her selection, Gov. Carlin Wrote: “Your selection… signals recognition of your contribution to the quality of life in Kansas. Your civic and community involvement has enriched the lives of countless Kansans. We are all grateful for your efforts.” The proclamation will be displayed in Topeka until a permanent location for the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame is available.
Mrs. Beech co-founded Beech Aircraft Corporation with her husband, the late Walter H. Beech, in Wichita in 1932. She served Beech Aircraft as Secretary-Treasurer and a Director from its founding until Mr. Beech’s death in 1950. Mrs. Beech then served as Chairman and President until January, 1968, and as Chairman until 1982, when she became Chairman Emeritus. During the 50 years she served as an officer of the company, Beech Aircraft grew from fewer than ten employees to more than 10,000, and from a dream to sales exceeding $900 million.
In 1980 Mrs. Beech was presented one of aviation’s most distinguished awards, the Wright Brothers Memorial trophy, bestowed annually by the National Aeronautic Association through the Aero Club of Washington, D. C.
In 1981, she was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio, joining her late husband who has been so honored in 1977. Later that year, the Wings Club awarded Mrs. Beech the 1981 Distinguished Achievement Award for her contributions in helping to develop the world’s foremost general aviation industry.
In 1982, during commencement ceremonies, The Wichita State University conferred on Mrs. Beech the honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration, honoring her for her “lifetime career and premiere role in American aviation.”
In 1983, Mrs. Beech was inducted into the National Business hall of Fame, the only Kansan to receive this honor.
This year, Mrs. Beech was honored as an inductee of the Business Hall of Fame of Junior Achievement of Wichita.
On November 18, the National Business Hall of Fame will open its permanent Chicago’s museum of Science and Industry.
Pierre DuPont, Charles Spalding, J. C. Penney, Thomas Alva Edison, and Mrs. Olive Ann Beech are the laureates to be featured in a holographic display that will welcome more than four million visitors to the museum annually.
Though she is retired from the day-to-day business operation in which she was involved for five decades, Mrs. Beech continues her long devotion to aviation and the company she co-founded as a Director of Beech Aircraft Corporation and Chairman of Beech Aircraft Foundation.
Mrs. Beech has two daughters, Suzanne Mellor Beech (Mrs. Thomas Warner) and Mary Lynn Beech (Mrs. William L. Oliver, Jr.)